Opinions Tue, 24 Jul 2018

Not ‘late’ Mandela, but simply Mandela

It is highly unlikely that President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would “gracefully” and “Prometheusly” do a Mandela, by which I mean that the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice would serve just one four-year term in office and then throw his full and unreserved weight behind his arch-lieutenant, to wit, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, the man with whom he contested for the Presidency for eight protracted years.

The stakes are simply too high. For the country’s fragile economy is at a turning point and certain recovery, by dint of his dexterous leadership, such that were Nana Akufo-Addo to bow out of office come January 2021, when his first term in office officially expires, he would have wasted eight years of his time and life trying to set the country on a robust and economically steady course.

It goes without saying that eight years of National Democratic Congress-sponsored Mill-Mahama regimes, with the nihilistic complicity of Akufo-Addo’s own internal political detractors, did untold damage to our national economy; and the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is strenuously about the unenviable business of reversing the same.

In short, we need at least eight years of the tandem leadership of both Messrs. Akufo-Addo and Bawumia to wean our economy from the sort of pathological dependency on the charity of Western donor nations and the apron strings of the Bretton Woods establishment. Yes, we also need to wean ourselves from the Eastern donor nations as well, if our beloved country is to become an emulative and enviable force to reckon with in the offing.

I take the foregoing lines, at least semantically, from the notes of the recent lecture that the President delivered at the centenary anniversary celebration of the life and leadership of former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. I suppose this glorious celebration of the life of the former Commander of Umkhonto-we-Sizwe, or the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC), took place in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The widely published full-text of Nana Akufo-Addo’s presentation was characteristically passionate, poignant and very inspiring (See “Full Text: Akufo-Addo’s Address at the Centenary Celebration of [the] Nelson Mandela” Presidency.gov.gh 7/20/18).

I latched on to the Ghanaian leader’s praise of the immortalized spearhead of the epic South African liberation struggle, in particular President Mandela’s very noble and selfless decision to serve only one term in office, instead of a possible two, which would have ended in 2004, instead of 1999, because even in 2008, actually by late 2007, or thereabouts, when he clinched his party’s presidential nomination for the first time, I was firmly of the view that Nana Akufo-Addo would serve a single four-year term as President and then quietly and comfortably hand over the baton of leadership to AlhajiBawumia and then confidently and wisely afford the much younger man his most generous guidance and assistance.

But even as I observed at the beginning of this write-up, in local Ghanaian parlance, the stakes are simply too high at this stage of the process. I have already spotlighted the fragile and fluxional state of our nation’s economy, and so I shall tersely adumbrate on the fact that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is still too heavily divided to afford Vice-President Bawumia the sort of comfort, confidence and incontestable authority that he needs to be able to win Election 2024, hands down, with the sort of commanding mandate afforded his boss.

You see, another four years of steady and sterling statesmanship would afford the former Deputy-Governor of the Bank of Ghana the sort of political track-record and electoral traction that he needs to effectively ward off any internal party rivals and challengers whose vaulting personal ambitions may have blinded them to the inescapable fact of the need for the Danquah-Busia-Dombo-inspired New Patriotic Party to further cohere and stay in power in order to gloriously facilitate the emergence and entrance of Ghana into the coveted company of the most economically and technologically advanced economies in the world.

Needless to say, any fatal mistake or attempt to return the social Darwinian sharks and pathological kleptocrats of the Rawlings-fangled National Democratic Congress to power would be just that – a fatal mistake. For with the morbidly self-serving NDC apparatchiks at the helm of the country’s affairs, Ghana can only precipitously regress for the foreseeable long haul.

On the whole, I am beginning to believe that Nana Akufo-Addo does much better with speeches and lectures when the subject of discourse verges on foreign policy and the ongoing continental African liberation struggle than anything else. His Mandela Centenary Anniversary Celebration Speech was as authentic and authoritative as one written and delivered by an indigenous South African citizen. My only vehement disagreement or dissent with the title of his presentation, though, is that global legends and mythical figures like President Mandela are never parochialized with the existentially finite descriptive address of “Late.” If, indeed, “Nkrumah Never Dies,” then Mandela has an even greater chance of existing in perpetuity.

In sum, such legends are commonly regarded as being “larger than life.” Which means that they are eternally present among the living and forever breathing down our necks, as it were, their physical demise and/or disintegration or cessation notwithstanding. Indeed, even as former US President Barack H. Obama memorably observed at the memorial and burial service for the first post-Apartheid democratically elected South African leader, President Nelson R. Mandela belongs to the ages.

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Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.